Where is the closest public campground from downtown Seattle? I’d have to pull out a map to know for sure, but I’ll bet it is Saltwater State Park, a Puget Sound waterfront and forested oasis exactly half-way between the cities of Seattle and Tacoma. In fact, this park marked a symbolic turning point in the long-time rivalry of these cities to be the main sea port and railroad hub on Puget Sound. During the park’s dedication in 1926, representatives from both came here and literally buried a hatchet!
A favorite activity for locals at Saltwater State Park is relaxing on the beach, though the sandy part of the beach here is rather small and feels particularly so on crowded summer weekends. Bring a picnic, good book, sand buckets and a beach towel. For more solitude, take the path north along the beach to the rockier parts and explore tidepools.
In the summer months, a concessionaire’s booth sells goodies like cold drinks, popsicles, warm pretzels and hot dogs. Sorry, no saltwater taffy. Alcohol is permitted in the campground area only.
Camping: Saltwater State Park has 47 standard campsites, so no full RV hookups, but there are sites that can accommodate RVs to 50 feet. There is a dump station though, and flush toilets and showers. You can camp here year-round. The campsites are not on the water, and SeaTac airport is nearby so bring earplugs in case the flight patterns are over the park on the night you camp. You can reserve a campsite online or call (888) 226-7688.
Location: 25205 8th Place South, Des Moines, WA see map
Hours: 8 a.m. to dusk year-round. A Washington State Discover Pass is required.
More info: park website | (253) 661-4956
Directions: From I-5 take exit #149 at the Kent-Des Moines Hwy (516) and go west to Marine View Drive. Take a left, and go south until you get to S. 252nd St. where you should turn right. The park entrance is one block on the left.